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Factors affecting the property in 1990*
  • Desertification
  • Financial resources
  • Legal framework
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Wind
  • Other Threats:

    Vulnerability of the mosques

International Assistance: requests for the property until 1990
Requests approved: 3 (from 1981-1990)
Total amount approved : 58,615 USD
Missions to the property until 1990**

June-July 1990: expert missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1990

When inscribing in 1988 three great mosques and sixteen cemeteries and mausoleums of Timbuktu, the Committee suggested that the Malian authorities consider inscription of this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the threat of sand encroachment at Timbuktu.

Consequently, in April 1989, the Government of Mali presented this property for inclusion in the List of World Heritage in Danger. At its thirteenth session, the Bureau considered that, if the Government of Mali so wished, a preparatory assistance mission could be organized with a view to helping the authorities concerned to work out an appropriate nomination file on Timbuktu (mosques, cemeteries, and mausoleums) to the List of World Heritage in Danger. A mission was organized from 23 June to 21 July 1990, and a programme of safeguard drawn up, the first phase of which is presented in the document related to the Request for international assistance (CC-90/CONF.004/7.). 



The traditional urban fabric of Timbuktu, included in 1988 in the World Heritage List under criteria (ii), (iv) and (v), is constituted, in particular, by the three great mosques of Djingareiber, Sankore, and Sidi Yahia, and sixteen cemeteries and mausoleums which are essential elements of the religious monuments. When inscribing this site, the Committee suggested that the Malian authorities consider inscription of this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the threat of sand encroachment at Timbuktu. In its evalua­tion ICOMOS furthermore pointed out the vulnerability of the mosques.

At the request of the Malian authorities and financed under the World Heritage Fund (US$5,274), an expert mission was carried out from 13 to 21 July 1990. The purpose of the mission was to diagnose the state of deterioration of the above-mentioned elements and to elaborate a programme of safeguarding. The report of the expert emphasizes the urgency of implementing a programme of conservation of the mosques and of rehabilitation of the environment which will require promulgating appropriate laws and raising adequate financial resources. In addition to the emergency measures recommended in the report, which may be consulted by the Committee members, studies will have to be undertaken to analyse the state of deterioration of Malian earthen architecture and intervention techniques. This programme should be integrated into a general city management plan.

Mosques of Diingareiber, Sankore, and Sidi Yahia:

These monuments present the same type of deterioration. The Sidi Yahia mosque is the best maintained because of the congrega­tion's participation in its upkeep. The problems encountered are due to sand encroachment. The deterioration of the rainwater drainage system and the fragility of the bases of the walls endanger their static equilibrium, the upper parts of which have been changed by hydric and aeolian erosion.

Mausoleums and Cemeteries:

These elements, isolated at the outskirts of the town, are very much exposed to aeolian erosion, due, in particular, to the deterioration of surrounding vegetation. Action on the environment should be urgently undertaken with a view to setting up protective barriers consisting mainly of plants. The expert report recommends to reafforest altered zones with fast-growing species and to make the population aware of the necessity of limiting the exploitation of the slow-growing plants which are still available.


Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1990
Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger: Timbuktu (Mali)




The Committee decided to inscribe this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the threat of sand encroachment. A programme to safeguard the property has been set up in order to combat the most pressing dangers, including the consolidation of the Djingareiber Mosque and improvement of terrace rainwater drainage systems.

Requests for International Assistance: Technical Co-operation

46. The Committee examined the document prepared by the Secretariat in this regard and congratulated the Secretariat on its clear presentation of the requests submitted. Considering the Bureau's recommendations, the Committee decided to approve the following requests:



1.  Ngorongoro Conservation Area (United Republic of Tanzania) US$49,782
Purchase of a Land Rover and radio equipment for the archaeological and paleontological site of Olduvai.

2.  Studenica Monastery (Yugoslavia) US$51,000
Purchase of computer and photographic equipment and equipment for the restoration of murals. With respect to this site, the Committee has noted with satisfaction the assurances provided by the Yugoslavian authorities that there will be no dam construction near the monastery which could jeopardize the outstanding value of this site.

3.  Archaeological site of Delphi (Greece) US$50,000
Purchase of a sandblaster and seven dehumidifiers for the restoration of objects from the site which have been placed in the Delphi museum. The Committee examined the possibility of acceding to requests concerning the conservation of objects from archaeological sites, and it asked the Secretariat to draw up a draft decision on this issue for inclusion in the Operational Guidelines, to ensure that the fund allocation limits for objects from archaeological sites protected by the World Heritage Convention are clearly defined. This draft decision is to be presented to the Bureau and Committee at their next sessions.

4.  Timbuktu (Mali) US$45,138
Consolidation of the Djingareiber mosque and improvement of terrace rainwater drainage systems. Removal of sand from the walls and interior court of the Sankore mosque, and installation of bollards to divert traffic away from the mosque.

5.  International symposium on the "Preservation of Urban Historic Areas in Changing Times" (Canada) US$26,000
Publication of the proceedings of the symposium.


1. La Amistad National Park (Panama) US$50,000
As part of the described management plan, financing of the construction of three guard posts; purchase of field equipment and materials for environmental education activities; organization of training seminars for park guards.

2. Salonga National Park (Zaire) US$60,000
Reinforcement  of park protection through infrastructure construction (ranger posts, jetty) and purchase of an all-terrain vehicle and small­scale equipment.

3. Talamanca Range-La Amistad National Park (Costa Rica) US$50,000
The Committee approved this request under two conditions: that the Costa Rican authorities report on the completion of the previous projects and that the boundaries of this property be revised in accordance with IUCN recommendations. The Committee instructed the Bureau to determine at its next session whether these conditions had been met before deciding whether to award an appropriate amount to Costa Rica.

47. With respect to Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania), the Committee noted that a request for technical cooperation had been submitted to the Secretariat but that this request needed to be reformulated. The Committee encouraged the Mauritanian authorities to prepare and submit a new request for consideration at its next session.

No draft Decision

Report year: 1990
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(v)
Danger List (dates): 1990-2005, 2012-present

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.